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Safe Scaffolding Spotlight: How to Determine the Height and Load Capacity of Scaffolding

Scaffolding is as much a necessity as it is a requirement when it comes to most types of commercial, industrial or residential construction.

Many accidents involving scaffolding are often due to un-fit for purpose scaffolding, a lack of scaffolding safety equipment and quite often – overloaded scaffolding.

safety first - safe scaffolding

Working with Scaffolding

Scaffolding by nature is not the easiest of construction equipment’s to work with, added to the fact scaffolding systems, access systems and working from height carries some of the most dangerous risks there is within a construction site or project.

The law requires that;

No scaffold shall be erected, moved dismantled or altered EXCEPT by or under the supervision of a competent and qualified person.

Scaffolding is a specialization and as such should only be operated, handled and adjusted by those fully trained and competent.

Scaffolding over the years, has evolved from traditional tube and fitting scaffolds to the modern day system scaffolds such as Cuplock and Kwikstage. Today, there are over 30 different types of scaffolds available on the market.

Various formations and types of scaffolds permit for various types of access.

Scaffolding can be bracket supported, pre-fabricated, fully supported, under-hung or even hanging as is often the case within Offshore, marine and oil and gas sectors.


Establishing the Load Capacity of Scaffolding

When it comes to load types of scaffolds, there are three main types;

  1. Light duty scaffolds – permitting up to 120kg /squrem
  2. Medium duty scaffolds – permitting up to 240kg / squrem
  3. Heavy or Specialized duty scaffolds – permitting up to 240kg / squrem


How to Calculate the Load Capacity of Scaffolding


Working Out Height Capacity of Scaffolding

The load capacity of scaffolding is determined by a height to base ratio of 4:1,

Meaning the scaffold can be up to four times the minimal base width.

For example, a scaffolding structure with a base width of 3 meters can have a height of up to 12 meters;

3 x 4 = 12 meters (Based on the ratio of 4:1)

Another factor that must also be taken into consideration is wind factor, for example;

The height of a scaffolding structure erected outside a building height, the ratio is slightly less at; 3.5:1

Mobile scaffolds bear a ratio of 3:1 purely for the purpose of protection against heavy winds


In Summary

It’s safe to say when working with scaffolding think twice, then think again. There’s no second chances when working at height.

It’s always advisable to purchase any type of scaffolding or access solutions from a reliable and reputable scaffolding manufacturer and check with your manufacturer for all load capacities of any specialized scaffolds, scaffolds and access systems.

There’s no such thing as a stupid question, especially when working at height is required.

For more details on any of the scaffolding systems or scaffolding supplies manufactured by St Helens Plant, or for any advice or guidance relating to scaffolding, contact us – INFO@STHP.CO.UK or call us on – 01744 850 300.

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